Despite the Real Madrid star himself having taken full responsibility for his side’s defeat at the hands of Manchester City last night, both Toni Kroos and Zinedine Zidane have since spoken out in defence of Raphael Varane.
Zidane’s Blancos got their European campaign back underway on Friday, with a trip to the Etihad.
The Spanish champions headed into proceedings as underdogs to advance to the Champions League’s final-8, on the back of a 2-1 first-leg defeat at the Bernabeu.
The uphill task facing Real was only steepened, meanwhile, by the absence of captain and leader Sergio Ramos through suspension.
And, when all was said and done in Manchester, the hole left by Ramos at the heart of Los Merengues’ backline proved telling.
A shaky defensive display on the part of Zidane’s men eventually saw Real once again put to the sword by 2 goals to 1.
After Raheem Sterling put Manchester City in front inside the opening 10 minutes, the visitors bagged a crucial away goal courtesy of Karim Benzema to level things up with 28 minutes on the clock.
Gabriel Jesus’ City 2nd a little over 20 minutes from time, though, proved the night’s key strike, as Real Madrid saw their hopes of reclaiming Champions League glory brought to an end for another season.
Zinedine Zidane has been eliminated from the Champions League for the first time in his managerial career. 🥚💥 pic.twitter.com/CChsJxmFUJ
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 7, 2020
On the back of last night’s result at the Etihad, though, the media chatter has not surrounded Los Blancos’ failings as a whole, but rather the struggles of one individual in particular.
The player in question is Raphael Varane, who endured one of the worst evenings of his storied career in Manchester.
The Frenchman was at fault for both of Manchester City’s goals, gifting the ball to Gabriel Jesus in the buildup to the game’s opener, before leaving his attempted header back to Thibaut Courtois short to allow Jesus to nip in and double the Sky Blues’ lead.
Another mistake from Raphael Varane?! 😮
One of the best around, but he’ll be having nightmares about Gabriel Jesus!
— Football on BT Sport #Club2020 (@btsportfootball) August 7, 2020
As such, speaking in an interview on the back of his costly display, Varane was inevitably drawn on his uncharacteristic mistakes.
The stopper, though, was in no mood to make excuses, taking the full blame for Real’s Champions League exit:
‘I want to show my face. This defeat, for me, is mine. I have to accept that,’ Varane told Movistar+.
‘I’m sad for my team-mates, for the effort they made. We felt good in the game, we had prepared well. Errors at this level are very costly.’
‘I have my responsibility. I don’t have the explanation for those mistakes. It happens i football. It’s a difficult night for me.’
‘You have to stand up in the good and bad moments. We gave everything on the pitch. Sometimes you fail. Today I failed and I have to accept that.’
Quotes via the Evening Standard
As outlined above, however, a host of others have since leapt to the defence of Varane, who has of course played an absolutely integral role in the successes of Real Madrid over recent years.
First, when drawn on his teammate’s Etihad disasterclass, Toni Kroos responded:
‘We didn’t play a good first half and helped them with the goals. After that, it will, of course, be difficult to turn the game around.’
‘Rapha played an outstanding season. There are no accusations.’
Zinedine Zidane was also keen to defend his fellow countryman, explaining:
‘We must be calm, heads up. As 95% of all the players have done, all season, have been spectacular. And I will stick to that.’